Many of the more than eight million college students in the United States are faced with health and safety issues related to heavy use of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, violence and injury, and the full range of mental health problems. These issues include hate crimes, vandalism, high-risk sexual practices, academic failure, and suicide.
To help address alcohol and other drug use among college-aged students and the problems it can cause, HHD’s Center for College Health and Safety (CCHS) has recently developed and launched a new online resource called CampusHealthandSafety.org. This website provides information for a wide range of campus personnel, from top-level administrators to clinicians in health centers, to help create healthier and safer living and learning environments for college and university students. It emphasizes a comprehensive, public-health based approach to addressing alcohol and other drug use, violence, and mental health issues on the campus and in the surrounding community. Special sections are devoted to key audiences-students, parents, college and university presidents, and the press.
A unique feature of the site is that it provides a full explanation of the environmental approach to prevention called “environmental management” and infuses this approach throughout it. Environmental management is a comprehensive approach that goes beyond individually-focused health education programs to include strategies to change the campus and community environment in which students make decisions about alcohol and other drug use. It stresses five areas of strategic intervention that influence student behavior:
- Offering substance-free recreational and extracurricular options
- Restricting marketing and promotion of alcohol
- Limiting student access to alcohol and other drugs
- Developing and enforcing campus and local policies
- Promoting a healthy normative environment for students
Examples of specific interventions include increasing availability of substance-free housing and building partnerships among campus security, local police departments, and community coalitions to ensure coordinated and consistent enforcement of laws and to implement prevention programs.
According to Helen Stubbs, communications director of CCHS, “This site is an invaluable tool with over 700 articles related to research, references, resources, and websites. It is a ‘one-stop shop’ for information and resources related to the prevention of alcohol, other drug, and violence problems on campus.”
The site provides the most recent data defining substance abuse problems, information on how students and campuses are affected by them, and examples of prevention approaches that professionals and concerned citizens can implement on their campuses and in their communities. The site also allows visitors to access material in a variety of ways: by topic, resource type, and keyword. Full text searching is also available.
“This site focuses on college students, but it is not only relevant for those working on college health and safety issues. It is also helpful for alcohol and other drug prevention practitioners who are seeking to use an environmental model,” says Stubbs. “CCHS has received national attention for its development and promotion of the ‘environmental management’ approach.”
Originally published on June 30, 2005